The Gold Rush – A Hollywood Comedy Classic

The Gold Rush, the 1925 silent screen comedy, is generally thought to be Charlie Chaplin’s most well known film. Throughout the history of motion pictures, both film critics and viewers have always considered this Chaplin film to be a true Hollywood comedy classic from the silent era.

It tells the story of the equally famous and loved Chaplin character ‘The Little Tramp’ (called The Lone Prospector in this film) as he travels to Alaska hoping to take part in the Great Alaska Gold Rush. Instead, as luck and bad weather would have it, he finds himself stranded in a remote backwoods cabin with another gold prospector and an escaped fugitive for company.

Eventually, when the weather subsides, ‘The Lone Prospector’ again sets out for a nearby gold-rush community. While there he takes the job of tending another prospectors cabin, and finds himself falling in love with Georgia, a saloon girl, whom he mistakenly assumes loves him as well.

While known as a great comedy, this film is also rich in social satire, drama, and emotional tenderness.

The film features a number of famous scenes that include the Chaplin character preparing Thanksgiving dinner for himself and another stranded and starving prospector by boiling and eating a leather shoe (provided by the American Licorice Company), and its laces as if they were noodles. In another, the cabins occupants scramble to exit as the cabin itself balances dangerously on the edge of a cliff before falling into the valley below.

A famous sequence, considered by many to be one of the most memorable in Chaplin’s career, shows The Lone Prospector entertaining his imaginary New Year’s Eve guests at dinner by piercing two bread rolls with forks and having them dance as though they were the legs of a real dancer. This scene was recreated in a 1994 episode of ‘The Simpsons,’ titled ‘Lady Bouvier’s Lover’.

The comedy classic is still being enjoyed by audiences today and ranks as the fifth highest grossing silent film, and the highest grossing silent film comedy of all-time.

The movie was again released by Chaplin in 1942 with sound narration and a musical score that were spoken and arranged by Chaplin. He also tightened the editing to reduce the films running time, changed some minor plot points, and removed the kissing scene at the end eliminating a subplot where the character is tricked into believing the Georgia loved him. This re-release was a huge hit world wide.

In 1992, The Gold Rush was selected to the National Film Registry, Library of Congress. This motion picture is a must see for anyone interested in a Hollywood comedy classic from the silent era.